May 22, 2018

My daughter, no, he is NOT YOUR UNCLE – Joy Ehonwa

My daughter, no, he is NOT YOUR UNCLE – Joy Ehonwa

Uncle: Your mother or father’s brother. 

I have long desired a daughter, and I believe that God will give her to me soon. She will not be calling anybody uncle except my brothers and her father’s brothers. Every other male will be Mister whatever his name is. I have come to love the sound of Mister; it keeps people at arm’s length who should not come any closer.  I will also teach her early to say Sir. You know how, when an old man wants to fool himself with a girl young enough to be his daughter, he starts urging her to stop calling him Sir? Ehen.

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I dont know about you, but I grew up calling many older males who were in no way related to me uncle.  Even in primary school, male teachers were called uncle. I did not consider this a problem then. I did not realise the power that calling someone uncle had, the difference it made, the trust that it infused a relationship with. Being with an uncle meant that one was safe and loved.


Paedophiles rarely swoop in and molest children. They spend time grooming them and building trust until the child is ready as it were. When we elevate random males to uncle status, we accelerate this process.

I have certain memories that have never left me. I had my first uncle experience at the age of six. I was sitting in an empty classroom waiting for my mum to come pick me up from summer class, and my teacher, *Uncle Kenneth, was sitting beside me begging me to kiss him. I didnt want to do it because the idea of French kissing was gross, but even if it had not been, I was not fond of him so I had no desire whatsoever to please him.

This was not the case with my older cousin’s boyfriend, *Uncle Peter. He actually did kiss me, when my cousin stepped out of the room. I was just seven years old. I had no idea whatsoever that there was something terribly wrong with this; nothing registered in my young mind. He was, after all, uncle.

When I was twelve, I had yet another uncle experience that would stay with me for a very long time. I did not even know that it was still with me until almost a decade later when this uncle died and I had to say quietly at his funeral, Uncle, I forgive you. Yes, I was still calling him uncle even then.

I had attended an event with my parents and both of them were giving people lifts to different parts of town, so they asked me to join this uncle’s bus. I did. He dropped everybody off and instead of heading for my parents house to drop me, he parked the bus in a dark corner and came inside to kiss and caress me.  If this happened with someone who was not my uncle I would have screamed and made a scene (one old idiot actually tried this once when I was about 5yrs old and he got the shocker of his life for asking me to take off my shorts) but this was my dear uncle, so I stayed still and let it happen. He dropped me off at home, and I told my mother. I honestly don’t know how she handled it. She certainly did not let my dad know.

I shudder now to think of these things, and I am actually thankful that nothing worse happened to me. I realise now that anything could have happened, really, and I may have been psychologically scarred for life.

It is possible for a child to be abused by an actual uncle  at least I think it is because I’ve heard of even fathers who abuse their children  but when this person they are exposed to without parental supervision is not their uncle, it is even worse. I think we owe it to our children to protect them.

As a young graduate I once went to work for one uncle under whose nose I was born and grew up. I was happy to be working for family and his wife was so sweet to me. My parents were very pleased and their minds were at rest. Unfortunately I only lasted two months there. One day,  while sitting in his car, he called my attention to his erection and said, “You see what you’ve caused now’?” Please tell me, what was avuncular about this?

*not real names


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